Thursday, December 27, 2007

Sharepoint/MOSS: Learning the Ropes

A few years ago, my career touched on Sharepoint 2003 but I haven't worked with it in some time. My group is starting to see some traction with it so I decided to update my understanding.

First off, as Microsoft is fond of doing, there are at least five different versions of Sharepoint. This chart, while far from concise, communicates the functionality in the different offerings. I found it helpful for my breath of understanding.

Also, I'm investigating books I can read in my free time. Here's what I came up with along with some suggestions from the gurus at my firm (thanks, Leon, Steve):

Microsoft SharePoint 2007 Unleashed
Professional SharePoint 2007 Development
Pro SharePoint 2007 Development Techniques (Pro)
Inside Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (Pro Developer)
Real World SharePoint 2007
Microsoft SharePoint: Building Office 2007 Solutions in C# 2005
Microsoft SharePoint 2007 Technologies: Planning, Design and Implementation
Professional SharePoint 2007 Web Content Management Development

Update (1/14/2008): Good whitepaper from Chappell. It's a bit old but the concepts hold true.
Update (1/15/2008): 100-level but clear and concise roadmap from Microsoft.
Update (1/17/2008): I ended up buying Professional SharePoint 2007 Development...I'll post my thoughts.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Team Foundation Power Tools for Team Foundation Server 2008 available

Thursday, December 20, 2007

ADO.Net Entity Framework: Vendor Support

Last night we held our bi-monthly practice meeting at the office. One of the guys on my team presented LINQ. We got to talking about the ADO.Net Entity Framework and someone wondered about vendor support.

InfoQ is reporting this morning eight vendors have already jumped on board issuing their support in the near future. Beta3 of the framework released two weeks ago so I'm looking for an RTM maybe early Q2...?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Free Microsoft eBook: LINQ, AJAX, Silverlight

From the link...

The free e-book includes content from three recent publications from Microsoft Press:

Introducing Microsoft LINQ by Paolo Pialorsi and Marco Russo (ISBN: 9780735623910)
This practical guide covers Language Integrated Query (LINQ) syntax fundamentals, LINQ to ADO.NET, and LINQ to XML. The e-book includes the entire contents of this printed book!

Introducing Microsoft ASP.NET AJAX by Dino Esposito (ISBN: 9780735624139)
Learn about the February 2007 release of ASP.NET AJAX Extensions 1.0, including an overview and the control toolkit.

Introducing Microsoft Silverlight 1.0 by Laurence Moroney (ISBN: 9780735625396)
Learn how to use Silverlight to simplify the way you implement compelling user experiences for the Web. Discover how to support an object-oriented program model with JavaScript.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Gated Check-ins

Our development shop [gently ;-)] ostracizes the developer who "breaks the build" as a way to encourage quality. We also deliver awards for the group who breaks the build most infrequently. Unfortunately, the carrot and the stick treatment doesn't always work.

Completing the build locally is a good first step but obviously, it doesn't replicate the server CI process identically.

Brian Harry writes of an open source solution for TFS described as "Gated Check-ins". The code is shelved until receiving the necessary sign-offs (manual or automated) and can successfully pass the build sequence. Once successful, the source is unshelved and submitted into the "real" build sequence.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Windows Live Writer

I'm sure there are other on/offline blogging applications but I've recently taken up using the Windows Live Writer application. It's a WISIWYG editor that enables you to draft posts, save them locally, and when connected to the Internet, post to your blog. I also like the style-import feature. This allows one to suck in the theme of your blog so even when editing locally, you know what the post will look like when posted. Finally, it supports most platforms. I use it on both TypePad and Blogger (and soon on WordPress).

My team from The Freestyle Entrepreneur constantly complains about the TypePad editor. Fine, we're switching to Live Writer! (I'm migrating off TypePad as soon as I get our WordPress site running anyway. ;-)

MSDN Event: Visual Studio 2008 - Easton

Today I'm attending the MSDN Visual Studio 2008 launch event at the AMC Theatres at Easton Town Center in Columbus, OH. William Steele, Microsoft Developer Evangelist is fielding the discussion for the entire day: Visual Studio 2008, Astoria and Silverlight in the morning and IIS7/ASP.Net in the afternoon.

I've never seen William speak but I receive his updates via MSDN emails. He's handling the crowd well and is smooth with the slides and demo. After delivering a bunch of presentations and seeing others present, I just have the greatest respect for folks who can not only pull off a big event like this but do it with comfort and a bit of humor.

Topics included:

  • Visual Studio 2008 - what's new
  • .Net 3.0/3.5: C# 3.0/VB.Net 9.0, LINQ, anonymous types, etc.
  • LINQ
  • WCF/WF/WPF
  • ADO.Net Entity Framework - abstract/extrapolate physical data model into conceptual model (Beta 3 released 12/5/2007...RTM expected Q2 2008)
  • Codename Astoria - expose entities via RESTful web services (Official Name: ASP.Net Data Services)
  • IIS7
  • ASP.Net 3.5

As I've written before, I'm still in the "live events aren't the best use of time" camp but Microsoft does a great job of extending knowledge to the community in a free, all-encompassing event such as this. Further, when there's so much that's new and different, I find this "breadth blast" format is optimal. When I get free time, I can then drill down on topics I need or want to explore further (ADO.Net Entity Framework!)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Heartland Influencer Summit

Friday, I braved the early morning tumultuous weather in Columbus to travel to Detroit for a meeting with our Microsoft Heartland District's leaders Jeff Blankenburg (Developer Evangelist) and Josh Holmes (Architect Evangelist). Thanks again for the invitation, guys.

The topic of the day focused on how Microsoft can best help the developer community. Most of the 20 or so attendees were affiliated with the local user groups in the district. Hey, at least they [Microsoft] are asking. Microsoft may not always get it right but I've been pleased at the creation of roles such as Developer and Architect Evangelist. This alone really bridges the gap between Microsoft and the community. Now Microsoft just needs to increase the budget for these road warriors. [hint, hint]

As a thank you for attending the meeting, Jeff handed out USB Rocket Launchers. Somehow, he scored them from Micro Center for around $10. Nice work, Jeff, they're $35 on Think Geek! Anyway, my 3-year-old couldn't be more enamored with this toy. I hooked it up to the laptop in the kitchen and he has already mastered it! This kid loses interest approximately every 36 seconds but he played with this launcher for over an hour the first night. Good times.

Recommendation: Attend CodeMash

If you're anything like me, your responsibilities pull you in about 50 directions--all at once. This is especially true if you're in a technology career. For me, I maintain a list of goals surrounding my career which average around 10-12: figure out Oslo, get stronger with TFS...particularly Rosario, learn ASP.Net/C# 3.5, present technical topics often, maintain my certifications, keep my team happy and growing, etc.

Typically, it has been my experience during my 12+ year career that conferences--especially non-vendor-managed conferences are not a good use of my time. One ends up burning a day or two with travel ('cause they don't do conferences in the mid-west), the topics and sessions are hit-or-miss, and they're expensive.

CodeMash alleviates all of these shortcomings. Hosted right here in Ohio, the independent founders of CodeMash knocked one out of the park last year in their inaugural offering: logistics, price, content, speakers, SWAG, and organization. Overall, this 2-day regional conference delivered more value than most of the national or coastal events I've attended.

Living in Columbus, the 2.5 hour drive to Sandusky, OH and the Kalahari Water Resort is a piece of cake. Somehow, CodeMash charges under $200 negotiated an under-$100/night rate, and the food is sponsored. There are 42 sessions delivered by the best and brightest (ok, so they didn't pick me...one exception ;-) folks in Michigan/Ohio (predominately) we all know and enjoy: Jim Holmes, Dave Donaldson, Bill Wagner, Josh Holmes, etc. AND, they managed to pull in some heavy weight out-of-state talent such as Bruce Eckel, Neal Ford, and Scott Hanselman. (Last year they paraded in Scott Guthrie...wow. I'll miss his presence at the conference this year. I'm sure there'll be no shortage of greatness this year though...)

So, get yourself registered already! All the cool kids will be there.

My firm, Cardinal Solutions is a Gold Sponsor. If you're nice, I might even share our discount code. ;-)

Monday, December 03, 2007

Tools: Free Download Manager, Magic ISO Maker

I've been downloading and installing lots of software lately with the release of VSTS 2008 and the CTPs of Rosario. Downloading through a browser is mediocre at best. I started using Free Download Manager for the downloads and Magic ISO Maker to expand the ISOs.

Check them out. First, they're both free but more importantly, they work great. FDM has built-in restart support and integrates seamlessly with browser downloads. Magic expanded my ISOs quickly and correctly.